Charging an EV at home makes lots of sense, which is why around 85% of owners refill their car batteries this way. Not only is it cheaper thanks to lower domestic electricity, but it’s more convenient as you can charge when the car would otherwise be doing nothing, such as overnight when you’re asleep. Simple, no? Well, not quite.
You see, you really need a garage or off-street parking to make this work, which is fine until you consider that over 40% of households in the UK don’t have this facility. That rules out quite a lot of potential drivers looking to go green. Or does it? Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that driving an electric car and having to park on the road shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. In fact, read on and you’ll find that it could be easier to do than you think.
Can I run a cable across the pavement?
In theory, the easiest solution is simply to run a cable from your property, across the pavement and then plug into your car at the kerbside. Yet there are some hazards - literal tripping ones as well those of the legal kind - to be aware of if you're considering this option.
On paper there’s nothing wrong with doing this, but there are some guidelines you should follow. First off you should make sure the cable is laid as flat as possible and when charging is complete the cable needs to be removed immediately. You should also only plug into a ground floor or basement power supply - hanging a cable from a first-floor window is very much frowned on.
If there’s no other choice, then you can consider a raised cable protector like those often used on pavements where roadworks are being undertaken. It’ll need to be made of tough non-slip plastic and be finished in contrasting colours, such as yellow and black, for maximum visibility. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll still need to take the protector and cable up every time you finish charging, which is a bit of a faff.
From the point of view of the charger itself, it’s also worth considering the length of the charging cable, especially if you’re using the three-pin domestic unit. Most won’t have cables that are long enough to stretch from the house to the car, and using an extension cord is forbidden by most EV manufacturers.
In terms of legislation, it’s not illegal to run the cable across the pavement, but you must ensure it doesn’t cause a danger or nuisance to pedestrians. Perhaps most importantly of all, if someone does trip and injures themselves, you will be held legally responsible. As a result, councils will caution against this practice, although only a few ban it outright.
There may be another solution on the horizon, though, with UK company Green Mole proposing purpose-built tunnels under the pavement. Essentially, a standard wallbox charger is mounted to the side of your house while a small trench is dug out of the pavement and covered with a non-slip metal cover. When you need to charge, simply unlock a panel in the metal cover at the kerbside and pull the charging cable out. It’s still in the early days of development, and with a proposed price of £3000 it’s not cheap, but it does solve many of the issues of roadside charging.